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Andre Wallace created "The Whisper", initially as a maquette, featuring two girls sitting on a railing. It was fully commissioned by Sainsbury's and exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. There it was spotted by Milton Keynes Development Corporation which commissioned the sculpture in bronze for a prime site outside the town's library. Now it is returning to Taunton where the inspiration for the piece was born - and it would be perfect if the models could be traced. Andre said the idea for The Whisper was developed from observing how people interacted in the town centre and formed one of a number of works that depict people from all walks of life going about their daily business.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Contemporary art - monetise in search of meaning 2

This week have decided to further explore further the desperate ongoing monetising of contemporary artworks. So for your further consideration a few soiled gems that need some serious consideration, if only for sheer affront;

First off Jeremy Corbin's cultural policy - spending public money will make us all happier he say !

Marina Abramovic needs to make some serious money according to Bloomberg ? Though one can ask what is she selling ?

Mass monetisation of art is debasing the aesthetic currency.

Confused art think from Jonathan Jones in the Guardian

Stephen Bailey is worried about artist's estates and squabbling among their heirs

Neo-liberalist capitalism vs contemporary art producers

Utter and Complete Horlicks from the Liverpool Biennale - contradiction in terms

Apparently Graffitti or street art is now somewhat gentrified. Time was when it was criminal behaviour but then in terms of its content it still is.

This art-bollocks is called Churmmin it!

Monetising kitsch - the usual suspects outstanding success.

Empty vessels always make the most noise.

According to Linkedin even Museums are getting in on the act. Art cannot be anything, a door is not art, a chair is not art, a car can be art but usually isn't.

Re-appropriation is what the Chinese call monetising art.

Can the Chinese innovate? well can they?

Stealing other artists work for profit.

Does this question really need asking, seriously ?

Lastly some seriously dumb and stupid assertions from blind techies who assume that they alone know everything.

Why is contemporary art so poor?

Generate your own practise statement artbollocks here

If the above have anything at all in common it is the coarseness and stupidity of their use of language. When anyone recourses to this kind of crap jargon they are doing it for a purpose, to confuse and dismay. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Paeans for Sir Nicholas Serota

Last week brought the news that Sir Nicholas Serota is moving on from the Tate empire to chair Arts Council England.
The press has been full of praise for the way in which he managed the growth of Tate  Modern to become the foremost Museum of Modern Art in the world (sic). This has been achieved by putting popularity in front of any notions of artistic excellence (as is usual) and he has truly been responsible for inflating the reputation of some particularly dodgy excuses.

That said there has been one faint voice of dissent - that of Waldemar Januszczak in the Sunday Times. He points out that he was the right man in the right place at the right time, that he, in conjunction with Charles Saatchi opened up modern art to the common man and populism. What he doesn't mention is that Saatchi's keen interest in art was never disinterested. His intention was solely to bend  fine art art to serve the interests of his advertising industry and in this he succeeded. Lately it hasn't worked so well, because his utilitarianism shot the golden goose in the art education head. You cannot educate fine artist to do anything apart from make art - all other is design. Art students are now asking to be taught how to paint and draw properly and they won't be washed off with any excuses for conceptual art. It was of little or no co-incidence that the aesthetics of 'art' got lost and destroyed along the way. Maybe as a final funeral service over the entire dark plot, we have the BBC promoting Conceptual art on channel four this week. Is it not time to grow up and move on? Is it not? Some of us we are heartily sick to our stomachs of boring recycled conceptual fake non-sense.  It cannot be said loud enough, Dada was antique infantilism,  rich kids ostensibly kicking against WW1. The real men - Orpen, Bomberg, Clausen, Wyndham Lewis, Nash, Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, and Eric Kennington made their art work on the bloody western front, not among New York socialites.

Waldemar writes; " With subtle nudges of the tiller, Serota had turned going to a modern art gallery into an experience not dissimilar to going to a family amusement park. So, yes, he's a magnificent Establishment operator. That's why making him head of the Arts Council is such a good idea."

Subtext, it is supremely important that contemporary art is held in a very safe pair of hands. Because those artists, well they might get up to anything? They might start dealing with issues that matter like Politics, Syria, food banks, global warming or immigration and such, and we can't have that subsidised by the public, now, can we? So lets keep it meaningless and empty shall we?

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Wall decoration.

In a weeks time the BBC will be putting out a series of programs of support for State conceptual art which it says, will be very challenging and thought provoking.  Unfortunately Conceptual art is a defunct strategy and has not produced one single piece of artwork of note - not one that will last more than six months and that includes all decaying formalin bottled animals. The entire ill-judged Kosuth-Duchamp rehash is now as noxious as that antique movement from which it derives it's spurious legitimacy - Dada.  Despite all the heavy weight media hype that has and is being thrown at it, it is and was always dead as the Dodo.  When you look and look at any of these conceptual objects there is nothing there except your own belief system. If you have no faith in the idea - then the priests are lying to you. Just as Duchamp was when he constructed the Large Glass. 

These past fifteen years have seen the rise of an endemic form of paint dribbling termed Zombie formalism. Literally the weakest excuse for art it is possible to conceive of as a wall decoration. It has countless forms in the UK and the States but all the many participants earning a crust have one thing in common, they cannot be bothered to depict anything. There are reasons for this, i.e. they have not been taught anything by anyone apart from pseudo art-speak and crits, consequently they vanish into smoke when their meaninglessness is challenged. They are a sad footnote to the conceptual art which the BBC will be promoting as new and of real concern, when it is actually neither.

This post is an introduction some of those 'Artists' whose artwork literally dribbles down the wall:


There is much more, lots and lots more which you can trawl up from the net depths, which doesn't say much because it's an extremely expensive way of seeking any image that accidentally corresponds with something your brain may have experienced.
To quote Caps Crits; "it traces a regrettable development, not so much for the fate of abstraction or painting but for an artist too anxious to remain in step with his times, for times inflating an aesthetic to unsustainable proportions."
An accidental aesthetic moreover - quite so!

Good artists who are not hyped by the State art machine

RIP
Firstly the death has occurred at the age of 84 of Professor Robert Clement. He was one of the most influential and most inspiring UK art teachers of the past half century. Note this, in great respect for the way in which his expertise and humour guided a whole generation of english art educators. This was before the discipline was rendered ineffective by politicians who enforced the content of the art curriculum. It was a far better era for art education in every respect, than the stupid dumbed down culture we now inhabit.

The rest of this post concerns good artists who have achieved great things by quietly getting on with the job of applying coloured glue to a support without State art publicity.







David Kassan

Adam Miller

David Liggare

Jason De Graff

Alyssa Monks

Sarah Harvey

Tai Shan Schierenberg

Thursday, September 01, 2016

What is a Tastemaker?

This week 28th August, the Observer carries a six page hype on the UKs Tastemakers as well they might and another article on the Oxford museum of modern art by Laura Cumming.
Cumming writes;"  In the last gallery, Abramović’s Black Dragon projects from the wall: three chunks of quartz positioned at head, heart and loin height; the artist was apparently investigating the healing power of crystals. Back in the 90s, visitors were urged to lean against them, but not any more. Now all touching is forbidden. This is one story of our experience of art in the past 50 years, permanently distorted by soaring prices and insurance costs. But it is also, in another sense, the story of Modern Art Oxford – a place where so many people had their first glimpse of international artists in solo shows before they became too big for this world."

Doesn't say much for the art, now does it?
Needless to say Tastemakers lists a usual roll call of state art acolytes. Hans Ulrich Obrist 'doyen of blacked out Limousines' at the Serpentine, Maria Balshaw of the Manchester Whitworth museum, and Sarah McCrory of the Glasgow International, all of them hell bent on finding new young talent and ideas. Only there aren't any out there to find and fulfil their criteria and there won't be as long as our university art education system keeps turning out the current product.

Which brings us neatly to the fact that Jeremy Corbin says he will have due regard for the development of the arts and arts education.
"The nature of university degrees is also changing with the progressing marketisation of education. Arts degrees are costly to deliver and difficult to measure in terms of “graduate outcomes” and “value for money” – key metrics in the soon-to-be-introduced Teaching Excellence Framework. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of arts education is under threat – and with it, the future of Britain’s cultural health as a whole." Perhaps it is already too late.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The "Critical Condition"

An informative article from a french art critic Claire Fontaine which gives an apt thoughtful summary of the current contemporary art critical condition. Excuse the verbiage but - her heart is in the right place

She writes; "The poignant lack of reference points, the feeling of being faced with both a virtually infinite field of possibilities and a fear of being unable to escape repeating, however unwittingly, something that has already been done—these are the consequences of this state of affairs; these are the demons with which every contemporary artist must converse, starting with their first experiments within school walls, up until the end of their days. Unbeknownst to them, the arbitrary has multiplied singularities, but made them whateversingularities: every artist develops his or her own language and nurtures the impression of being the only one to speak it. We no longer write or create in order to intensify life, for life is no longer something we all share, something in which we all accompany one another, but an individualized affair of accumulation, labor, and self-affirmation."

"We live like this with no hope for political change (however necessary) in our lives, nor a common language capable of naming this need or allowing us to define together what is particular to our present. This condition is new, no doubt unique in Western history; it is so painful and engenders such a profound solitude and loss of dignity that we sometimes catch ourselves doubting the sincerity of artworks that are created under such conditions—for we know that their fate is uncertain, and will most likely disappoint.

Nevertheless, the field of art has never been so free, vast, and attractive to the general public—and this is perhaps precisely what makes our present condition a profoundly critical one."


Perhaps forces are building for real change and we are not aware of the fact.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The downhill path no 2

Contemporary art was once a very serious business, engaged with serious meaning and issues whilst failing to change the world. Now alas, sculpture can only aspire to entertain or amuse consequently there are acres of dross meaningless works out there to be googled. Some examples of risible efforts by lost and bewildered "artists".

State arts BBC4 Dada season, dada is now technically antique. Do we not need to move on and start make to more meaningful art or are we in a time-warp of reaction to WW1? Public art is always a good hunting ground for risible efforts trying to pass themselves off as art.

Recent examples include the eyeball by Tony Tasset


The poverty of aspiration of Duncan McDaniel is unsurpassed anywhere.


The paper aeroplane in Chicago.




X marks the spot



Neon Teddy in New York.


Last but not least a reject University Don.

That is about enough entertainment for now but one does have to ask this question; How is it possible that any of these puerile efforts at making sculpture actually achieved the status of being funded. How could those who commissioned these works have had so little taste judgement and sensibility.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Silly Season

Little contemporary art of note around at the moment, but that will change? 

Note that the number of students in UK education at present studying A Level art is down 33% this year, a third no less! Inevitably as the Ebacc begins to bite art will vanish from UK schools, maybe for ever and our culture will be all the impoverished.

Talking of the poverty of our culture noted a lesson from social media this week. An education consultant wrote a perfectly reasonable article questioning the use of "Young adult" literature in schools in the TES. He promptly received from all interested parties in the market place a twitter drubbing. The article must have plucked a few feathers because what was so depressing about the response was that not one of the kidults who posted their abuse mentioned his argument. They all expressed ad hominem abuse of the author. Their response provided evidence that his article was accurate. It seems that exclusively reading and writing young adult fiction completely addles your brains.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The path of progress runs downhill

Evidence of a declining visual culture.

Firstly on a positive note, the BP National Portrait award continues to attract and exhibit some of the best portrait painters in the UK. Some such real awfulness though, such as this so called portrait of Actress Barbara Windsor by Daniel Llewelyn Hall.

Secondly, in 2015 the UK allotted £320million to the arts from the national lottery, a tax on the poorest members of society, and what do we have to show for it in terms of artworks? Zilch!

Thirdly, not so sure about the Orbit that Sir Anish Kapoor created. The fact that it now has a slide running down it at five pounds plus the twelve pounds it costs to climb up, it's hardly sculpture or value for money as a slide.

Fourthly, those creative paragons of insulting graphics, Gilbert and George will be opening a new museum in Spitalfields just around the corner from their long time domicile. It will have free entry but only by personal application. Why do artists who achieve a huge level of pecuniary fame have to foist their taste upon the rest of us by opening a personal museum? It was ever thus!

Fifthly, There is a show at White cube by one Raqib Shaw who does a strong line in challenging pseudo-realism. Suffice it to say that it has attracted the attention of Waldemar Januszczak who thinks the artist needs to show one image at a time - so overwhelmed was he by the content. Yet the weird thing is when one analyses carefully the actual meaning and content of the blatantly plagiarised imagery - it is the same old, same old, right on denigration of major achievements of renaissance painting by an artist who is incapable of creating visual perspective in his own efforts. 
Offence is all, to take an image of the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary as this person does and then rework it as a load of insults to christianity is inane, inept and says nothing of value. But then state art has too long been about personal insult, to the extent that insult or offence are now completely redundant strategies - devoid of meaning or value. 100 years out of date to be precise.

Sixthly, we hear that a usual suspect has donated his Last Supper to the National Gallery in Washington DC. If this conjures up visual images of the apostles around the table - forget it. It's merely a series of packages of food or suchlike. Needless to say this art free zone means that the words were created by the graphic artists in various agencies. Did they get recognition? Did they, no did they?

Seventhly it has come to notice that one of the most inept and risible efforts at making a portrait sculpture in recent times has been scrapped. It has been replaced by this pleasant and passable bronze by Carolyn Palmer. Needless to say the paragon of social media, Facebook, claimed the kudos or blame depending on your viewpoint.

Eight, Jonathon Jones continues on his ever revolving roundabout with this drivel which contains no contemporary art? A hype for a thames and Hudson book entitled Bizarre.

Nine, Masayoshi Matsumoto in the Guardian is promoting Balloon animals as works of art but Jeff Koons got there first did he not?

Ten and lastly, this is what happens when you eat your paints, or it did once upon a time, again values c/o Jonathon Jones. Guess you would only be at risk today if you used the very finest pigments - but they do cost don't they?


Monday, July 18, 2016

New Tate Modern extension

The recent press has been pre-occupied with the opening of the £20million extension to Tate Modern. Most of the press cuttings have remarked upon the disappointing artwork in a truly wonderful setting. Be that as it may, we are now approaching a situation where there are huge numbers of public venues in the west for showing contemporary art but no work of any merit to place in them. So the Tate has been forced to explore the widest diaspora.

The big exhibition to coincide has been the Georgia O'Keefe at Tate Modern. Inevitably the subject matter of her work is subject to much prurient speculation of little use when viewing the actual artwork. We do live in strange times, so the vacuous, empty aspects of her imagery provide room for speculation and misinterpretation. What is evident is that the artwork is not up to the hype, and there is little to distinguish it from poster art. Indeed her images of the desert are little more than advertising posters for mid-west holidays. They lack a sense of real visual engagement and are undemanding as images.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ebacc to the 1800's


The UK government is set to remove the vestiges of public arts education by ensuring that the arts are no longer a part of the state secondary school curriculum. This will be done by imposing the EBacc on all schools so that art, design, dance, drama and music will soon be squeezed out of the average school pupil's curriculum. The shortsightedness of this imposition is beyond belief, but in this culture the lead that the public schools have in all arts education provision (which has been discussed in the press) has to be secured and the market peopled only by their products.

As a child, one remembers very precious time spent on enriching one's knowledge of the real world, not the virtual substitute of the IPad, in museums (now for entertainment) and local art schools, now alas they are all vanishing or as in the case of art schools gone from the UK. It seems that not only was the past another country, but that it was an infinitely better country, in the real life learning experiences it offered.

It needs to be argued again and again that all students should have at least one arts subject in order to acquire the flexibility they need to deal with a life in the 21st century and in the interests of a civilised and humane balanced curriculum. The Grad-grind imposition of basic skills that will all soon be performed by dumb computer technology, (which will make no mistake, eventually include all research, teaching, law, medicine, management and practically everything else) will in time be completely counter productive. It is time that politicians seriously considered the nature of the society they are creating. In particular how the majority of young men are going be employed during their lifetime, - a question that is already answered by many young men in the third world with 10-15$ kalashnikovs.

Be that as it may, if you are reading this and are concerned about the loss of the arts in UK secondary education - you can write to your MP - here is the link.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Laura Cumming

Laura Cumming is fast becoming the only UK art critic with any gravitas. Here is a selection of her recent writing to consider.

Occasionally, the gallery lighting catches the glint of the Humbrol paint and the picture suddenly looks like an object as much as an image. Shaw has often been asked why he works with this intractable stuff that runs like new blood and has no lusciousness, traction or thickness, that is so difficult to move or manipulate. His answer is that enamel has no historic associations, can keep its distance from the grand tradition. But though he has remained faithful to this tough and lowly medium, despite the lure of the oil paint all around him, he takes it in new directions, achieving the blue of a Titian sky or a Madonna’s cloak, turning a Tile Hill tarpaulin into something like silk."


Of Pablo Bronstein at Tate Britain she says:

"It is good to be reminded of the inherent theatricality of these pillared spaces, and the architectural mishmash that is Tate Britain. But this spectacle is deliberately self-limiting. It has the stylised aestheticism of a Peter Greenaway film, and the pleasures are similarly slim." 



It gets worse in the Hirshhorn Museum’s immense Triptych, where the bodies appear thrashed to a pulp and contained in some kind of glass case raised up on a platform. An observer, hanging on the phone, peers at them through the glass. And in an anonymous hotel room with a deep blue view some terrible bloodbath has apparently occurred: or are these simply bloodstained clothes tumbling out of a case? It is hard to know what is going on in this sequence – as hard as Bacon wanted it to be."


Looking and seeing, that is what is going on here and one doesn't have to be reminded that she is discussing visual art unlike so many contemporary critics.


Lastly there was an odd article by Catherine Shoard in the Guardian of 28th April. She writes:

" Last summer, researchers in Germany designed a deep learning computer algorithm that uses image recognition to distil and comprehend the essence of how a great work of art is painted – style, colours, technique, brush strokes. This year will see the publication of a book that claims it’s possible to know with 97% certainty whether a manuscript will hit the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

The system at work in The Bestseller Code crunches themes, plot, character, pace, punctuation and word frequency to predict success. Its findings range from the obvious – a smattering of sex scenes helps, likewise a dog and a 28-year-old heroine – to the less easy to predict (such as, devote 30% of the novel to two specific topics).

Granted, neither the German researchers nor the boffins behind the code are creating original content. But the programs they are devising are either mimicking it perfectly or computing it fully. And once you understand a formula back to front, it becomes possible to pinpoint its genius, then do it yourself. Over and over and over again. Writers’s block is not a problem."


There is a dispiriting emptiness in this very facile assessment of what art actually does that is quite depressing. Claims for technology always avoid confronting the human element. What makes Toy Story amusing is not the animation, great achievement though it is - but the jokes. Even Wittgenstein was aware of the complex humanity in the mechanism of a simple joke. Besides when everything is done by slave computers from surgery to the law, what will any humans do - apart from make art that is? Before that can happen the knotty problem of finance and work will have to be addressed, and don't see any evidence of utopia on the horizon yet. The problem is the combination of power with payment for work which William Morris's - News from Nowhere attempted to address.



Usual suspects yet again

Damien Hirst is crawling all over the media promoting the latest show at his gallery in Vauxhall where his collection of artworks by his good friend Jeff Koons is being showed. There isn't much to say about Koons which hasn't already been said, so won't add to the hubris. However it seems that Jonathon Jones is beginning to defer, he writes this accurate piece of criticism in the Guardian;
"A giant ice-cream sculpture has no joy in it, only a cold contempt. Toys and inflatables, elephants and ducks – Jeff Koons has it in for the kids, to judge from his art. He sees their innocent playthings through the eyes of an evil Walt Disney. He is, you have to grant him, very clever. There’s a ruthless intelligence behind this inhuman stuff. He looks almost diabolic hunched over Ilona. A genius made in hell."

But to support Jeff Koon's work with reference to a satirical stance is to self-delude, there simply isn't a stance. Needless to say, the show is getting lots and lots of media coverage for it's huge entertainment value. A new book promoting the YBA story was published in late April. Called "Artrage the story of Britart" it charts the rise and fall of the last gasp of post-modernism and it has to be asked why there has been nothing of note since from the dead avant garde. Post modernism is deceased but there are still many artists quietly working away in their studios making no great fuss and going about changing things. They rarely if ever, get any sponsored BBC state art coverage though.

Turner Prize 2016.

Sat through BBC 2 Artsnight on Friday, and t'was Sir Nicholas himself arguing about the importance of contemporary art to the health of any society. It was an interesting programme for the range of claims Sir Nicholas made for contemporary art's wonderful ability to renew run down inner city environments, particularly Middlesborough. Have no argument with the aspirations but am suspicious of the claims made for it's relevance in ordinary people's lives as a substitute for religion. 

Meanwhile back at the Tate we have the unveiling of this years Turner prize contenders and it really ought to be given a five year break. Why? because it has entirely lost it's relevance and it's purpose. The guardian reports:  " The judging panel this year is Cotton, director of Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; Tamsin Dillon, curator; Beatrix Ruf, director, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Simon Wallis, director, the Hepworth Wakefield. It is chaired by Farquharson." All so very predictable and  it says it all, particularly when you read the chat lines at the bottom which give a good idea of what the public think of the chief state art prize in the UK - mainly that they are sick to death of having their sensibilities insulted by the last gasps on post-modernism. Then we have the pure hype penned by Jonathon Jones whose writing has become weird. He writes: 
"Nguyen and Khayatan are much better artists than (Jasper) Johns. Where he laboriously “made” a pair of glasses, like some obsessive medieval craftsman, they have made the true Duchampian leap into instant simplicity. These glasses are just glasses, no different from any other pair. What turns them into art, then? Being put on the floor? No, it cannot be that, for many works of art exist that are not on the floor. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, for instance – although compared with this utterly unpretentious gesture Michelangelo’s years of being spattered with paint up on his scaffolding do seem somewhat wasted."

Which is the writing of one whose aesthetic and artistic value system has quite literally gone down Duchamp's pan.

What makes one so sad is the fact that none of what is on offer here is either new or interesting - Carl Plackman did it all in the seventies with a far far superior, sensitivity and intelligence.

A past winner is George Shaw who is now artist in residence at the National gallery. I recommended his work on this blog some time ago and he appears to be maturing into a rather special visual artist - note 'visual'. According to Waldemar Januszczak; " The past is being yanked up to date. But - and this is what impresses most about the show. The new versions continue to sparkle with elusive meanings and magical pictorial possibilities. As all the best art does." Quite!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Keeping the faith?


Recently came across this bronze cast in an exhibition of land art! It begged the question as to how this much very expensive bronze got cast in such a meaningless sand form. 

Be that as it may it brings up the question as to why some artists go on keeping their faith in avant garde lite despite all the neglect and rejection they encounter over the years. One such has been Phyllida Barlow who is now enjoying a huge resurgence in interest in her enormous sculptures at the tender age of seventy two! She will be representing GB at the forthcoming 2017 Venice Biennale and one has to admire the sheer persistence of her career. She has gone on playing with basic materials and ideas despite everything. One could say she is getting somewhere after years in the wilderness.

Then there is this YBA Nicholas Fudge who destroyed everything and gave up art but who now years later wishes to be taken seriously as an artist. Throwing ones toys out of the pram invites a late risible response. Especially when the original gesture was aimed at deriding success.
At that moment, pressure was high to produce work (or make a name/brand from one’s work) for the heady 1980s art market. In a gesture of critical defiance, the artist destroyed his work two days prior to the much-hyped Goldsmith’s graduate show."

Then there is the much vaunted Mona Hatoum show at Tate modern. This according to the erstwhile Torygraph is one of the shows of the year! Mark Hudson says ; "Far from being cornily horrific, the impact of these objects is completely deadpan, and everything is beautifully, indeed at times almost too tastefully made and presented."
Well that argument relies upon the tolerance of horror movies by the viewer. seems like keeping the faith in small concepts and achievement.  The Guardian informs us that in the kitchen display of the exhibition all the objects hum with live electricity and are behind a safety barrier. Perhaps the artist wishes to electrocute all her fans?
"For example, one of the largest pieces, HomeBound 2000, is of various kitchen utensils and furniture all hooked up to a live electric wire. There is an audible buzz in the room and visitors are kept back by what looks like an electric fence." Not really visual art is that?

Much as one would expect it is the visual exhibition of the artists innards that attracts the most attention. Having seen this medical study way back in 2007 the response was that it was quite interesting as an abstract study - but we have seen many copies of digital projected images on the floor since. Tis become almost a "genre" as the man said.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Revising recent art history

This week a purely revisionist piece of retrospective art history at Tate Britain has cropped up disguised as art criticism from Adrian Searle. It is hyping a show of revisionist curatorial desperation intended to give added legitimacy to conceptual art's history. Such slight concepts as the pile of sand by Barry Flanagan ( concept of questionable origin) and the pile of stacked oranges by previously unheard of Roelof Louw. Inevitably art and language crop up, essays by Kosuth of doubtful validity and a rehash performance of underneath the arches by the usual suspects. All very tired, tedious, tendentious and pretentious. 

One paragraph struck home forcefully for an unintended joke:

"At its worst conceptual art in Britain was as doctrinaire and stultifying an influence on young minds as anything else, badly taught. Working one’s way through these contradictory approaches as an art student in the early 1970s was difficult and confusing – you were constantly up against the problem of intractable differences and impossible choices. We muddled through." 
Sure we did and then threw the whole pile of pretentious meaningless twaddle into the bin whence it came with it's supporting specious continental philosophy in favour of empiricism. You know where you are with empirical evidence.

One thing remains that is vividly illustrated here, there is not one lasting, significant piece of work to emerge from the entire 1960's rehashed heap of Neo-Dada. Not even a one that says anything visually significant about the human condition.
Searle concludes:  " 

"At best, all art is conceptual, and all exists in a political context. Which doesn’t mean it has to be framed in an exhibition as bleak and pleasureless as this."


Then there has been new effortless promotion of the usual suspects. Elizabeth Fullerton in the Guardian of 16th April writes two pages of hype for her book "The story of Brit Art" explaining the role Charles Saatchi played in their creation and promotion. She finishes the article with this :  “If you talk about pop art and minimalism, abstract expressionism, and then you look at the time frame, what’s really shocking is it was five, six, seven years and then that moment is over,” says Schubert. “What’s extraordinary about this one is that it carried on for the longest time. It feels like nothing has taken its place. Now that’s an odd phenomenon.”

Really, a very predictable outcome? One wonders what could cap the YBA movement in tastelessness? All conceptual arts progress seems blocked by the Chapman bros Hell.
Francis Morrison writes: " Education: that’s the most important thing that wasn’t there. It has to be central. If we don’t have a proper visual arts education, all the other things that we are told to do, like diversification of our audience, will never happen. We won’t have a diverse community of curators; we won’t have a gloriously diverse cohort of students at art schools. At the moment, our audience has for the most part received some sort of visual art education. It is a scary idea that over the next 10, 20 years, as young people encounter museums for the first time, they won’t have had that – apart from the ones that go to very privileged private schools. And I think that is really tragic.”

Yes quite! but is it not all interconnected and interdependent?


Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Columbia university

This morning's Guardian contains an article that demonstrates academic intolerance. It seems that some students at Columbia university object to the installation of a Henry Moore sculpture on the grounds that it will despoil their precious academic environment. These petition creators – Jeremy Liss, Alex Randall, Daniel Stone and Hallie Nell Swanson – reportedly said in an op-ed for the school newspaper: the Columbia Spectator, that the sculpture “suggests a dying mantis or a poorly formed pterodactyl”. Now that is news!!!!
The Protesters also expressed anger over how the installation of the sculpture was announced.  In a blogpost by Roberto Ferrari, curator of art properties at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. “Either those responsible for this move were oblivious to the significance of this decision, or they wanted to preclude any discussion of it,” they wrote. ""The opinion piece has angered commenters, who referred to the authors as “lunkheads”, “entitled little shits”, and “spoiled Columbia nitwits”. "
But one wonders seriously how these "students" attained such an immense  sense of hubris that they believe that their aesthetic judgements should really be considered.
Jennifer Wulffson Bedford, an art historian working at the Rose art museum has said: “Gathering signatures agreeing that a sculpture is unattractive in the opinion of the signatories does not in any way translate to the sculpture not being an excellent addition to the campus, both in terms of aesthetics and, more importantly, to its teaching of the humanities,” Quite so, but the sad reality is that she has actually had to state this to support of the university's decision to exhibit the sculpture.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What future for Art Schools?


" Change is in the air, prompting questions about what art schools are for, what they will look like in the future – and what they were like in the past. Looking beyond the campaigns and heated commentary surrounding the relocations of the Cass and Central Saint Martins – not to mention the earlier move of UAL's Chelsea School of Art in 2005, and the restoration of the Glasgow School of Art after a fire in 2014 – to a recent plethora of talks and books on the history of art schools, nostalgia for what has gone is the keynote." 
Truth be told - like all revisionist commentary, only those who were there are entitled to comment on the fact that the art school product of today or what successful students become. They are little more than a dilettantes. Big on theory and discourse and very poor on actual performance. She concludes with this criticism of one of the free alternatives to the university contemporary art dept: " John Lawrence was an associate at Open School East in 2015 and found the experience liberating. “It was great to work in a truly collaborative fashion, and to have real agency in providing cultural activity at the highest level to local audiences and the London community,” he says. “A DIY ethos requires a lot of energy from all involved, but it also allows for the possibility to engage and react to things on the fly.”
"While initiatives like this are exciting, it is unlikely that they can or will usurp mainstream art schools – nor is this something we should hope for. As Lawrence admits: “Ideally, alternative art school models wouldn’t need to exist. Really, they are papering over the cracks that some mainstream education models overlook and providing free education at a time when £9,000 in tuition fees simply isn’t a viable option for many.” 
The truth is that the mainstream art schools are in long overdue need of a complete rethink, dispensing with all the misbegotten fly blown marxist crap that has marred their correct function since the 1980's. Someone needs to to take on the challenge, and to force the universities to consider the intellectual and visual content of their art and design courses.
This is supposedly the truth about the status of our art schools - enjoy!


Some recent research has pointed up the fact that most artists throughout the history of western portrait painting have spent an enormous amount of time drawing and painting folds in drapery. Waldemar in his recent programs on the Renaissance discussed venetian drapery and a recent exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite drawings includes several studies of draped cloth. An unexplored area for someones PHd.

This cropped up this week - although what it has to do with contemporary art is anyone's guess?


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Visual arts dying in London?

Sir Nicholas Serota is complaining about the high cost of property in London. This, he moans is forcing artists to live elsewhere in the UK and the cultural capital of visual artists is dying. The Guardian agree with him as they argue many creatives are being driven out by the cost of property. Over to Labour MP Sadiq Khan:
  
"Mr Khan, a former transport minister, also said he would protect artists, musicians and creative industry workers by establishing Creative Enterprise Zones, where planning protection for small industrial workspaces, affordable space and possibly reduced rates and grants would be offered.
He also discussed plans to draw up the capital’s first cultural infrastructure plan involving key arts figures and organisations from the Tate to Adele and Idris Elba to identify what it needs to remain globally competitive and keep London’s “cultural crown” over the next 15 years and beyond."


Ah well, and how many times have we heard this kind of "let new blossoms bloom " cant over the past fifty years yet nothing changes. The real problem that no-one will actually address is the appalling state of Art and design higher education which is long over due for a root and branch reform. The present incumbents care not a fig, and are presiding over the greatest decline in visual arts education in the UK since WW2. They are busy removing it from secondary schools where it can be relegated to after hours - alongside sport as prescribed in the budget yesterday. Free schools and academies no longer have to teach art and the national curriculum is now completely defunct. Secondary schools have a deepening staffing crisis. The YBA's are ageing badly and the internet has replaced the gallery system. Which puts Sir Nicholas's complaints in a sad light. As the Kipling put it ; 
"Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:"
There will be no building up with worn out tools anytime soon!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Mark Wallinger

It is significant that there is little or no art being promoted today that deals with the great issues of the day - one may ask why this is so? Why is there so little serious agitprop being produced by contemporary artists? This is a serious question,  - is it that artists are no longer interested in dealing with serious political issues because they see their role as entertaining or amusing patrons and not as in the recent past challenging the status quo? It's not as though there are serious issues from the current US election, to the problems in Syria, and the migrant crisis.

Meanwhile Mark Wallinger is in the news with a show at Hauser and Wirth London called ID. The usual critics line up to hype it up with praise.  Needless to say it contains some thin ideas, including filming his shadow. The best thing has has done recently has used a 3D printer to reproduce a horse.

However this is as nothing as compared with the issues thrown up by the V and A exhibition based upon the Botticelli Venus. It had to happen sooner or later, but this is a truly shocking exhibition for a major public gallery to mount. The fact is that here two unwitting curators have given cultural vandalism a spurious and undeserved validity. Boyd Tonkin in the Independent writes ; "The museum has assembled perhaps the grossest heap of kitsch and dross ever to litter its eclectic exhibition halls."

The fact is that the net is rife with art abuse courtesy of net site worth 1000 which showed the kinds of trash produced by kids and the feeble minded who believe any old master painting was game for Photoshop modification. The result is always meaningless rubbish that has the ultimate effect of degrading the true value of the original artwork. Interestingly the plug has been pulled on the website Worth1000 which no longer exists and this is a very good thing. Try typing Mona Lisa modified into Google image search and observe the thousands of dross images. This photoshop abuse has moved on to other great paintings and here in the V and A there are soft porn versions of Venus given spurious and stupid validity as if in some way equal to the original Botticelli.
The original becomes contaminated, because the truth is self evident - Not all images are created equal!